According to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles the Dodgers are looking to add another veteran starting pitcher with Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly both question marks health-wise, and their “No. 1 target” is Rays right-hander James Shields.
Tampa Bay picked up Shields’ option for 2013, because at $10.25 million it’s a no-brainer, and he’s also under team control for 2014 via $12 million option.
Given their young pitching depth and payroll limitations it wouldn’t be surprising if the Rays are willing to take calls on Shields, but it would be surprising if they’re willing to deal him without getting a ton in return. During the past two seasons Shields has logged 477 innings with a 3.15 ERA and 448/123 K/BB ratio.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.